If you thought B&Bs were all chintz curtains, pastel sheets and morning fry-ups, you'd be wrong! The new, luxurious B&Bs offer boutique-hotel style, en-suite bathrooms, Egyptian cotton bedlinen and organic breakfasts - and our favourites only cost around £85 a night
Old meets new at 1 Sallyport, a pretty 17th-century townhouse with six stylish suites. All are decorated with great attention to detail and have Bose stereos, Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries and fresh flowers. The town centre has 260 listed buildings, while nearby Bamburgh Beach is one of Britain's best. There are scenic hikes on St Abbs cliff top, and Harry Potter fans will love Alnwick Castle and Gardens - Hogwarts School in the films. Lindisfarne Island is also nearby.
The owner: Elizabeth Middlemiss oversees all the interior decoration and is a mine of local knowledge for visitors.
What makes it so special? It's the ultimate boutique B&B and perfect for a romantic retreat. Most of the rooms have access to a kitchen, where you can make tea and coffee and munch on homemade shortbread.
Where to eat: A new dining room offers a daily changing menu featuring the finest local produce, for £39.50 per person.
Cost: Rooms from £110 per night; ask about children's rates). Visit www.sallyport.co.uk; call 01289 308827.
Set on the edge of the romantic Port Eliot estate in a picturesque corner of Cornwall, Buttervilla offers three stylishly furnished guest rooms. The accommodation is part of a 15-acre organic farm, three of which supply organic fruit and vegetables to Jamie Oliver’s restaurant, Fifteen Cornwall. The farm is near the sea, so surfers and water babies should head straight for Freathy Beach. Visit the Eden Project, Bodmin Moor or the sandy beaches of the unspoilt Rame Peninsula.
The owners: Robert and Gill Hocking are avid exponents of the organic movement and serve up their own organic produce.
What makes it so special? The eco-friendly farm is chemical-free and the bedrooms have solar-powered showers. Guests enjoy 12 acres of landscaped gardens, so it’s popular with city dwellers.
What to eat: If you don’t eat at the farm (three courses for £30), head for The View (01752 822345) in Torpoint, which has amazing coastal views. Dishes are modern and French and cost about £25 per head.
Cost: Doubles are £75 per night based on two sharing. Two to 10-year-olds can stay for £10, with £1 added for each year of the child’s age after that. Babies go free. Visit www.buttervilla.com; call 01503 230315.
With just two antique-strewn rooms on offer, this stone farmhouse is surrounded by 130 acres of pasture. But despite its seclusion, it is well placed for exploring. Hay-on-Wye, host of the annual book festival each May, and stuffed with interesting bookshops, is just six miles away. Hike in the Black Mountains, drive over the spectacular Gospel Pass or visit the ruins of Llanthony Priory.
The owners: Niki Spenceley cultivates a relaxed family atmosphere and guests are encouraged to enjoy the peace and solitude.
What makes it so special? The stunning views over the Wye Valley and the Welsh Marches. Organic is key; even the sheets are made from organic cotton.
Where to eat: Award-winning Felin Fach Griffin (www.eatdrinksleep.ltd.uk; 01874 620111) outside Brecon grows many of its dishes' ingredients. Meals are around £20 per head.
Cost: Doubles start from £80 per night based on two sharing. Children catered for by arrangement. Visit www.tymynydd.co.uk; call 01497 821593.
A Georgian laird’s house in rolling farmland, Chipperkyle is grand enough to render you a little awestruck as you pull up. But inside, the emphasis is on informality, with traditional decor and a warm atmosphere (helped by a huge fire in the drawing room). Galloway is one of Scotland’s quieter corners, perfect for walking, birdwatching, mountain biking, sailing or just mooching by the sea. The property is set outside Castle Douglas, Scotland’s food town, and is within easy striking distance of the national book town (Wigtown) and artists’ town (Kirkcudbright).
The owners: Willie and Catriona Dickson moved into Chipperkyle having unexpectedly inherited it. They’ve really made it their own.
What makes it so special? The personal service. When we arrived late at night, Catriona whipped out a pot of tea and a batch of homemade brownies.
Where to eat: The café at Designs Gallery (www.designsgallery.co.uk; 01556 504552) in Castle Douglas serves homemade lunches for around £5 per course. The award-winning Linen Room in Dumfries (www.linenroom.com; 01387 255689) offers sophisticated meals from local ingredients, at around £35 for three courses.
Cost: There is one double bedroom with huge en suite, and one twin room with adjacent, but private, bathroom. Both are £90 per night. Children catered for by arrangement. Visit www.chipperkyle.co.uk; call 01556 650223.
This chic townhouse is set on a pretty square in one of London’s ritziest postcodes, and shopaholics will love being within a stiletto’s throw of Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Sloane Street. The Victoria & Albert Museum, the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and Hyde Park are also just a short stroll away for the less retail-obsessed.
The owners: Mother-and-daughter team Margaret Palmer and Holly Price also run an interior design company, so stylish surroundings are guaranteed.
What makes it so special? Locations don’t come better than this – you could stay at one of the nearby five-star hotels for five times the price. This feels more like your very own pied-à-terre, and you’ll be privy to lots of insider shopping and sightseeing tips.
Where to eat: There are plenty of options in the area, but for superior French bistro-style cooking try Racine on Brompton Road (above; 020 7584 4477). Expect to pay around £40 per head.
Cost: Double rooms start at £140 per night based on two sharing, and children are welcome by arrangement. Visit www.37trevorsquare.co.uk; call 020 7823 8186.
This is a glamorous getaway in the Victorian town of Llandudno in north Wales, arguably Wales’s prettiest seaside resort. The great outdoors is a big draw; take long, romantic strolls along the promenade, hike the Great Orme limestone headland, ride the Great Orme Tramway for stunning views, or visit nearby Conwy Castle. Llandudno is also a good base for exploring the rugged landscape of Snowdonia National Park.
The owners: Sam and Gaenor Nayer wanted a lifestyle change and converted a Victorian house into this stylish, upmarket B&B.
What makes it so special? This is the place for a romantic getaway. Think long walks on deserted beaches and serious R&R in one of nine rooms, all with TV, DVD and Aveda toiletries. Each has a different theme; the most romantic is The Boudoir, with rococo bedstead and chandelier.
Where to eat: The nearby Seahorse Restaurant & Bistro (01492 875315) serves dishes inspired from around the world, using local produce. Around £20 per head.
Cost: Doubles start at £85 per night. Not suitable for under 10s. Visit www.escapebandb.co.uk; call 01492 877776.
Ty’r Chanter offers a family-friendly stay in four comfortable rooms in a farmhouse. Go fishing in the Usk, riding, shooting, cycling or walking in the Brecon Beacons National Park, which also has a huge indoor climbing centre.
The owners: The farm is home to Charlie and Tiggy Pettifer and their four boys, who make great playmates for visiting children.
What makes it so special? Lots of toys, games, a sandpit and a playroom to keep children happy. And they can help out on the farm, feeding ducks and chickens.
Where to eat: The Bear (www.bearhotel.co.uk; 01873 810408) in Crickhowell was twice voted Pub of the Year by the Good Pub Guide. Meals cost about £22 per head.
Cost: Double rooms £80 per night based on two sharing. Children cost £20 per night, with babies under one free. Visit www.tyrchanter.com; call 01874 731144.
An elegant farmhouse in the Devon countryside, Larkbeare is a B&B with five-star aspirations. Luxuriously renovated, it has three bedrooms and a suite, all exuding classic-meets-contemporary chic. The Dartmoor National Park is on the doorstep, as is Castle Drogo, the Jurassic Coast’s walking trails, several golf courses and Whimple, from where you can take a trip on an Aerosaurus hot-air balloon.
The owners: Charlie trained at the Savoy Group, and with his wife, Julia, is both highly professional and warmly informal with guests.
What makes it so special? The couple run the guesthouse in an environmentally sensitive way and are members of the Green Tourism Business Scheme.
Where to eat: Dinner is available by arrangement for four or more people, or visit The Jack in the Green Inn (www.jackinthegreen.uk.com; 01404 822240), a nearby gastropub in Rockbeare. Seasonally inspired meals cost around £25 per person.
Cost: Doubles from £88 per room per night for two sharing. There’s a free camp bed and cot for children up to 10 sharing their parents’ room; £15 per night for each extra child or those 11 and over. Visit www.larkbeare.net; call 01404 822069.
The allure of this B&B lies in its sophisticated yet homely appeal. No expense has been spared in decorating its two suites, housed in a cottage in the village of Easebourne near Midhurst. Rub shoulders with the polo set at Cowdray Park, visit Goodwood or Chichester and explore the beaches of the south coast.
The owners: Ian and Felicity Lock, who live in the house next door, will go to great lengths to make sure their guests have a good time – they will even drop you off for dinner and pick you up from the station.
What makes it so special? With just two suites, this is about as exclusive as it gets, so privacy is guaranteed. The Garden Suite looks out on to a pretty courtyard and is decked out in shades of aubergine, grey and beige. The adjacent Blue Suite is decorated to the same high standard and both have luxurious bathrooms stocked with toiletries from The White Company.
Where to eat: The Halfway Bridge (www.halfwaybridge.co.uk; 01798 861251) is a lovely converted 17th-century inn serving modern British dishes for about £25 per person.
Cost: Suites start at £100 per night. Babies are welcome and can stay free, but this is really a place for grown-ups. Visit www.yorkhouserooms.co.uk; call 01730 814090.
This gorgeously situated organic working farm, set in large gardens, sprawls over 370 acres of prime Derbyshire land, and looks out over the parkland surrounding Kedleston Hall. The chintz may not have been chucked out of three guest rooms, but they are high on quirky country charm, with four-poster beds and roll-top baths. The area is perfect for walkers and cyclists who want to enjoy the surrounding Peak District National Park. Other outdoor activities include fishing, caving, quad biking and boating.
Linda and Mike Adams have been welcoming guests for over 20 years, so know when to be helpful and chatty, and when to leave their guests alone.
What makes it so special?
Park View Farm’s location is stunning, but the friendly atmosphere is its real selling point. When she’s not busy on the farm, Linda is usually rustling up delicious compotes and jams for breakfast.
Where to eat
The Black Swan Inn (www.theblackswan.co.uk; 01773 550249) is an atmospheric 19th-century coaching inn, 10 minutes’ drive away in Idridgehay. It serves classic dishes with a modern twist for around £25 per head.
B&B in a double room is £80 per night. Families can be catered for in adjoining rooms for £25 per child over five. Visit www.parkviewfarm.co.uk; call 01335 360352.